days of thanks: 20 – 25

20. J.Crew has opened a location across the street from Danny’s office.  Need I say more?  Except maybe that I still have that J.Crew gift card Danny gave me from my birthday six months ago…and right now I am really loving this sweater.

21. I love snow and its beauty.  It has snowed five days in a row here, and I am so thankful for it.  I especially love snow that doesn’t stick to the roads, but covers everything in a beautiful coat of white.  Last Thursday it took an hour and a half (instead of 15 minutes) for Danny to get to work, so I’m also grateful for safety in the snow.

22. Now don’t laugh at me, but I’m thankful for easy dinner recipes.  You know, the kind with simple, fresh ingredients that don’t take long to make but are somehow still really delicious.  Yeah.  Finding those always invokes thankfulness in me.

23. Danny’s parents moved back to Colorado Springs last Wednesday, and already we’ve had fun celebrating his mom’s birthday together and watching the Patriots and the Broncos last night.  Although San Diego was a fabulous place to have family, I’m thankful to have them so close!

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24. I’ve talked a lot about our apartment around here, but that’s because I love it…its location, its spaciousness, its amenities, its price, etc.  However, one thing that is at the very top of my list of why I love our apartment is the view.  We can see the mountains from every window in our home, and oh, what a gift it is!  Whenever we drive by other apartment complexes in the Springs, I always analyze what kind of view I think they have, and after living here for almost a year, I can say that I think our view is tops.  So I’m pretty thankful for that.

25. Today we bought our very first Christmas tree!  I’m so excited to decorate the tree and bask in the glow of its light and beauty for the next month.  We love love love Christmas around here!  Grateful for the lady who sold it to us for a real steal and that I only had to drive two minutes to pick it up!

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denver getaway

This past weekend, with Danny having a surprise Monday off, we took the opportunity to go to Denver for a couple days.  We left Sunday after lunch and came back late on Monday.  In just over 24 hours, we went to the Colorado State Capitol, swam in our hotel pool, toured the Pepsi Center, got Danny a haircut, went shopping, played mini golf, and in between it all, ate a lot of delicious food, among other things.  Some highlights…

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^^ Mini golf, thanks to a sweet Groupon deal. ^^

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^^ Two hole-in-ones for Danny! ^^

Danny was finally able to spend some of his birthday money while on our trip, picking up a classy new pea coat, a pair of khaki pants (a steal at $2.99!!), and some jeans while at the Park Meadows Mall.

For dinner, we checked out Thai Basil, one of the top rated vegan restaurants in Denver.  It did not disappoint.

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After about ten minutes at our original table, this ‘booth’ opened up, and Danny asked our waiter if we could be moved.  It was a slow, Sunday night, and so our waiter kindly obliged.  The food was excellent – the best eggplant we’ve had outside of China – and Danny’s lo mein was top notch as well.

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Our hotel was just a couple minutes away and we spent the rest of the evening swimming in the (indoor) pool and soaking in the hot tub, as well as reading Awkward Family Pet Photos (not as fun as the game, but still good for some laughs).

The morning found us taking advantage of the hotel’s fitness room and fancy breakfast (homemade waffles for all!) before heading downtown.

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A tour of the Colorado State Capitol was our next stop.  The dome is being redone, so it looks a little funny right now, but the inside was still as beautiful as ever…

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And then while we were taking the last picture, we accidentally ended up in a press conference.  Thankfully the governor wasn’t at the podium yet or we would’ve been on TV…and also really embarrassed.

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Lunch at Tokyo Joe’s across the street followed, because they give free meals on your half birthday (Monday was my half birthday), and it was delicious.  Love that place.  The associate at the counter was so kind, and gave us two free drinks and a cookie two.  Best half birthday ever!

At 2pm we went to the Pepsi Center for a behind-the-scenes tour (thanks to another Groupon, this time gifted to us by my parents).  We had an excellent tour guide and really enjoyed seeing the inner workings of such a big and complex place.

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^^ The banner where Nuggets’ coach Brian Shaw conducts his post-game interviews. ^^

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^^ Showers for visiting NBA teams ^^

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^^ Michael Jordan’s locker when he played at the Pepsi Center.  Also, don’t you just love Danny’s  new jeans?! ^^

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^^ In a private box that runs for ~$30,000 when stars like One Direction are performing. ^^

Then came the strangest part of the weekend.

Danny got his haircut at a place we found via Groupon.

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We followed our faithful GPS, Minerva, to NY Cuts Barbershop which is located on Colfax (if you are familiar with Denver, you know that mentioning Colfax will explain some of the sketchiness of the place).  As soon as we spotted it, Danny’s face said it all.  And I responded by saying, “We don’t have to do this.  We really don’t.  You can get refunds on Groupons.”  He was resolved to get his hair cut, however, so we ventured through the adjoining used car lot and pawn shop and tried to relax.

I wasn’t brave enough to take any pictures while D’s hair was being cut (or shampooed or doused in gel) but I can tell you this: we were in the minority.  In more ways than one.  Also of note was the fact that a group of random fellas were playing a very frighteningly violent video game in the middle of the barbershop.  That was hooked up to a surround sound system.  Oh, and you can purchase cell phones from the glass case at the register, if you want.

We felt like we were in a foreign country.

Needless to say, we escaped, and Danny is coming to accept his new haircut, and never again will we buy a Groupon for a barbershop we have never been to before.

We felt much more at home at City o’ City, a vegan restaurant located right by the state capitol.  It was the first vegan restaurant we’d ever been to, and we fell in love.  Being able to choose from anything on the menu is a treat we’re just not accustomed to.

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Now, if you’ll excuse my non-existent food photography skills, we can continue.

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^^ Here are the barbecue seitan wings we had as an appetizer.  Because we arrived during happy hour and they were a great price.  And I thought Danny would love them.  He did, but I might’ve loved them even more.  Which is truly the surprise of the century. ^^

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^^ Danny’s combination platter consisting of vegan mac and cheese, sauteed greens (the best part in my opinion), and barbecue.  I am pleased to report that Danny joined the clean plate club after this meal. ^^

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^^ My meatless loaf on a pretzel bun with fries and gravy and greens.  I in no way imagined all of those things coming heaped on top of each other, but they did.  The fries and the bun, and obviously, the greens, were the best parts. ^^

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^^ While we tried to make a decision on dessert (should we or shouldn’t we?) Danny made this cootie catcher.  It was tiny and precious and the best ‘fortune’ inside was this one: “You will meet Kate.”

As in Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge.

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^^ We finally settled on City o’ City’s version of a Hostess Cupcake.  It was awesome. ^^

So there you have it.  A snapshot (or twenty) of our super fun getaway to Denver.  We’re already plotting another one for sometime in the new year!

days of thanks: 13 – 19

13. Libraries have been a part of my life from a young age.  And I’m so thankful for that.  I’m not a big book buyer, but I am a big book reader.  I’m grateful for a place where we can borrow books (and CDs and DVDs, among other things), and after a couple of days or weeks or months, bring them back- and all for free, too!

14. Something I really take for granted is our washer and dryer.  What a gift it is to be able to put a heap of dirty clothes (or towels or sheets) in the washer, from the convenience of our apartment, and twenty minutes later, have clean clothes.  And until the day when we can get a clothes line/space for air drying clothes, I’m grateful for our dryer and the warm, dry clothes it gives us.

15. I am thankful for documentaries.  I love learning, and reading books is my main avenue of doing so, however, sometimes it’s nice to put the book(s) down and watch a movie.  Some of our favorites: Forks over Knives, Food Matters, Bag It, and Food Inc.

16. My camera isn’t fancy or top of the line, but I love it.  It does what I need it to, which is capture memories, whether it’s the food we ate for dinner last night or our trip to the zoo.  I’m so thankful to have it and be able to enjoy the past through the pictures it has taken.

17. We’ve had a really, really hard time finding a church in Colorado Springs.  However, sometimes when I take a step back, I realize that this, in a weird way, is something to be grateful for.  We live in a country where there is an abundance of churches, and a variety of beliefs, styles, and preferences to choose from.  There are literally hundreds of churches within the town we live in, and we get to pick which one we are (or are not) a part of – that is that not a luxury that most people around the world do not have.

18. Although I haven’t been to many, I’m thankful for vegan restaurants.  Danny and I ate at our first vegan restaurant yesterday, and had so much fun looking and the menu and thinking, “We can order whatever we want!  It’s all vegan!”  We’re thankful for like-minded people who run and patronize such establishments, and look forward to trying out and supporting more in the future.

19. I’m thankful for the Mormon missionaries who knocked on our door this past March, and ever since then, have become good friends of ours.  We may have very different beliefs, but we do enjoy laughing, homemade food, and more importantly, Kate Middleton.

camping in rocky mountain national park

During the second weekend in August, Danny and I joined my parents and brother for a camping trip in Rocky Mountain National Park.

{I like to think that some of you, before I mentioned the word August, thought we went camping recently.  If you did, I am so honored that you think I would go camping in NOVEMBER.  What is actually going on here is my mom and I live far away from each other, and when we see each other we usually forget to swap pictures.  I have been waiting to finish this post until I had all the pictures.}

Anyways, some of my very favorite memories involve travelling and camping with my family.  Therefore, being able to be apart of a family camping trip with Danny was something I was very excited about.  Introducing him to one of my favorite camping spots and family traditions was so sweet, and of course, being with my family in such a beautiful setting was such a gift.  The pictures from the weekend describe it much better than I can with mere words…

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The next morning…

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After breakfast, we set off for a hike to Mills Lake.

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^^ My favorite people in the whole wide world. ^^

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^^ D’s lunch.  Yes, he’s preparing to put those two pieces of bread together for a PB & J with blueberries on it… ^^

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^^ This lil’ guy LOVED our newspapers.  He tore them so shreds so skillfully, and then carried them to his den.  Precious.  ^^

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^^ Thanks, OP, for the great game!  ^^

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^^ Victory dance. ^^

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^^ Hoodlums after dinner. ^^

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^^ Trip into town (Estes Park) for mini golf and ice cream ^^

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On Sunday morning, we packed up and went for a hike to another beautiful destination, whose name now escapes me because I am writing this 3+ months after the fact.  But, like I said earlier, pictures are better than words in this case.

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Thanks, Mom and Dad for the excellent camping trip!!  Can’t wait till next year!

days of thanks: 7-12

I love looking for the bright spots in life, the little things and the big things, the insignificant and the unmistakable.

Here’s days 7 through 12 of my days of thanks this month…

7. I am so thankful for our juicer.  If I had someone to clean it for me, I would use it every single day.  I love the taste of fresh juice, and also the idea of drinking things (carrots, broccoli, celery, etc.) that I wouldn’t normally eat for breakfast.  And a shout out to apples, because they are undoubtedly my favorite thing to juice, plus they cover over a multitude of questionable flavors (including the aforementioned veggies).

8. About a month ago, I ran out of floss.  I didn’t get a chance to go to Target for a whole month, and so for a month, I didn’t floss.  I didn’t really think it was a big deal at the time, but once I restocked and got back in the habit, I found out that my gums were furious. For a week, my gums bled every night during and after flossing, and flossing became a painful, unpleasant experience.   Now, if for no other reason, I floss because it will hurt if I stop and then start again.  I am so thankful that I not only have (a three months’ supply of) floss, but also easy access to it.

9. I am grateful that we only live two hours away from ‘home.’  Home being my parents’ house.  I am so thankful we can go back for a weekend or in an unusual case, a day.  I am so thankful my parents are so welcoming and hospitable.  I am thankful for how my mom works so hard to find and use delicious vegan recipes even though they are definitely not vegan, and that my dad gladly eats them.  My parents’ house is a place of peace and rest and joy for me, and I love how accessible it is.

10. For the first nine-ish months of our marriage, I didn’t sleep through the night.  I don’t know if it was a mental thing (I’d never shared a bed – or really a bedroom for that matter -before) or the smell of male or being in a new place or what, but it was a real struggle and I was so frustrated by it.  For the past two-ish months, however, I have slept incredibly well…and through the night too.  After battling with sleep every night for months, I (hope I) will always be grateful for a solid, uninterrupted night of rest.

11. I am thankful for warm days in November.  Yesterday was a delight.  I walked outside without a coat of any kind and even kept the windows rolled down halfway as I drove home from work.  Of course, once the sun started setting, the temperature dropped quickly, but until then, I thoroughly enjoyed the warm sun.  Sometimes it’s the little things.

12.  Over the past week, I’ve realized that I have generous friends.  I’ve been given listening ears, open arms, welcoming homes, and available schedules.  Not to mention an unexpected Sprouts gift card in the mail and a few days later, an Olive Garden date night tucked into my purse!  These people, while not nearly as close (in proximity) as I would like, bless me deeply and encourage me greatly.

days of thanks: days 1-6

Recently, a blogger I really like and respect did a 21-day series on thankfulness.  And I’ve seen a couple ‘friends’ on Facebook listing something they’re thankful for each day in November.  So I’ve started thinking that I’d like to do something similar.  However, I know I won’t post everyday so I’m just going to post every couple of days or however it ends of up working out.  I know this blog is public and is read by a variety of people, but the real purpose of these posts is myself.  Life has been really hard lately and I feel this is a good way to focus on the good (and believe me, there is SO much of it) in my life.  So here it goes: the first six days of thankfulness…

1.  There are some blogs out there that I really enjoy reading and I get excited every time they’re updated.  And then there are blogs that I just can’t get enough of.  For example, my heart skyrockets when I see new posts on these blogs.  Lately, my dear friend Kristen’s blog has been making me crazy.  She is, hands down, the funniest person I know and I just can’t get enough of her (and her posts, since she no longer lives in the lower 48).  She recently drove from Colorado to Alaska.  That’s right, she (and her brave father) DROVE to Alaska and although a lot of their experiences were scary and bad and unbelievable, her recap of them is hysterical…I have been reading them over and over.  I’m grateful that she’s my friend and that she’s funny and that she’s willing to share herself and her adventures with me (and the entire internet, too, for that matter).

2.  I’m thankful for a brother who is thoughtful and kind and intentional.  He stayed with us this past weekend while he and a herd of pals were in town and even though they were doing all sorts of things together and meeting the parents of a lady he likes, he communicated well with us and made sure to spend quality time with us.  We’re not nearly as cool or fun as his college friends, but I felt good because he planned things out so that in the midst of the weekend’s festivities, we were a priority.  Also, he planned the weekend TWO MONTHS in advance and I would like to say that not many people do that, especially not college students, so major kudos to him.

3.  When I became vegan, I thought I was saying good-bye to dessert.  Or at least tasty desserts.  Those who know me well (or even read this blog) know this has not been the case.  Fortunately.  In fact, my dessert creating and consuming has probably increased (and this is not necessarily a good thing, but it’s the truth) since becoming vegan.  I made a hot fudge pudding cake while Mysteridge (the brother I mentioned previously) was here and aside from wanting to eat the entire thing in one sitting, which should tell you enough about it, it couldn’t be easier to make (and eat, apparently).  It calls for such ordinary ingredients that any non-vegan could (and should) make it.  All that being said, I am thankful for delicious vegan desserts.

4.  The internet at our apartment works again.  So weird that it was completely out of commission for a weeks, and now, all of a sudden, it’s working better than ever, but I am really really really thankful for this.  Now I can find recipes for dinner on my own time and get directions to new destinations.  And also, let’s be real, play Facebook whenever I want.

5.  On Tuesday, I had an interview and an hour later, a job offer.  I know.  If you can’t keep up with all of my work related news and changes lately, it’s okay.  Even I’m having a hard time keeping it all straight.  I am so blessed and honored to get to work in the Pikes Peak Library District, and even more blessed to get to work at the Monument branch.  After volunteering at the library for seven months, I was starting to feel like I’d never get a job at the library, but four weeks ago, I started my first paid position at the library and now that I’ve had four different jobs in four weeks, I can hardly believe it.  I’ve already been promoted and am working at what seems to be one of the top libraries around and WOW, I just feel so very grateful.

6.  Today the Christmas lights are being hung at our apartment complex.  I had totally forgotten how much I loved them until I saw men climbing trees and ladders and roofs this morning and the beauty of last January and February (they leave them up for a LONG time around here!) came rushing back.  The twinkling white lights make the long, dark nights of winter so much more enjoyable and I’m so grateful for the effort our apartment complex puts into making them classy and beautiful.

what i learned in october

I can hardly believe it is that time again.  Another month is coming to a close and so is fall.  It seems to me that fall was especially short this year, seeing how we were still swimming (outdoors) at the beginning of October, and now we are wearing winter coats and wool socks and turning up the heat at an alarming rate.  Or maybe that’s just me.  Regardless, as hard and frustrating as it was at points, October was good and full of opportunities to learn…

  • I really don’t like conflict.  I think perhaps I knew this, but it was never really so obvious to me as it has been lately.
  • IKEA is the best.  Although, if we’re honest, I think I already knew this.  So maybe I learned that they have an excellent assortment of miniature trees and succulents for sale.  My mom and I met there this past weekend, and for under $30 I came away with five (house) plants, five pots for said plants, and four frames.  Frames because a friend gave us a One Direction poster last week and the first thing that came to mind was: I need to frame this and display it prominently in our home.  Thankfully Danny was on the same page.
  • Take directions and/or a map when hiking.  And water.  We tried a new trail at Garden of the Gods this past Sunday with such high hopes and with so much faith in what we knew about the trail: 2.5 miles round trip with the expectation it should take about an hour.  Three hours later, with a desire to throw the Toms I had been wearing in a nearby dumpster and a desperate need for water, we found our car.  I had never been so happy.  It is important to note that the EXACT same thing happened to me back in February when my friend Kaci came to visit – same trail, same fiasco – except then I was wearing boots, which were only slightly more appropriate.

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  • Something I learned that wasn’t something I wanted to learn: Bass Pro Shops’ opening has been delayed.  Until November 21st.   So obviously I have been sad about that lately.
  • Not having internet at home is okay.  It has been annoying and even tough at times, but overall, it has really been okay.  Previously, we’ve had sketchy internet at home, but never absolutely no internet, which is what we have now.  And it really hasn’t been as ‘tragic’ as I had anticipated.  In fact, at times it has been really great.
  • I don’t really like Halloween.  Not the candy, not the witches, and especially not the costumes.  But I DO like an excuse for a party.  We went to a Halloween party with some friends at a local Mormon church, and while I didn’t wear a costume, I found out that coming straight from work makes for a convenient excuse of a costume.  For example, people kept saying “Are you a librarian?” and while it’s not really true, I could claim it as my costume.

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  • Christening gowns look kind of bizarre on male babies.  Like, for example, Prince George.  If you’d like to see what I mean, look here.
  • Sometimes it’s really okay to say “That’s more than I can handle right now.”  We decided to renew our lease because moving would just be way too much for us right now.  So we’re staying where we’re at until (at least) next August.  So, if you haven’t come to visit us yet, you now have ten more months to do so instead of a few hours (we were supposed to be out by tonight).
  • Babysitting/playing with kids can be really great.  Right after our friends Joe and Anya had a baby this past month, I got to watch one of their boys.  I was worried about what we would do for four hours together, but the time really flew by.  I mean, how could it not…we spent over an hour and a half playing Play-doh and 40 minutes making a peanut butter sandwich.

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  • Working is really different from volunteering.  I can’t call in and cancel at the last minute if a friend is coming into town or we want to attend a wedding.  The hours are longer and more demanding than my volunteering hours ever were but here’s the good news: I HAVE A JOB.  That I get paid to do.  Which is something I’ve been wanting since I finished college last December.  Also, the information about my job I mentioned lately isn’t true anymore!  A week after I started my job at East Library, I interviewed for and was offered a job at the Monument Library.  I started yesterday and I am so excited.  Closer to home, better hours, smaller library…also a duck pond.  And I am responsible for feeding the residents of said pond throughout the winter.  Which if you know me, is bad news.
  • Things can change so suddenly, both for good and for bad.  I saw multiple times in October, but most significantly this past week.  Danny got in a serious car accident on his way to work on Wednesday and all of a sudden, we have one car.  But the wonderful news is that Danny is 100% okay, as well as the other people involved.